Belfast Telegraph

Why the voice of truth must always be heard the loudest

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell made the following comments to a Bogside audience as the annual Apprentice Boys celebrations got under way

As the celebrations of the Relief of Londonderry get underway, I took part in a debate in the heart of the Bogside about identity.

When such debates are organised in Ulster, more often than not speakers play to their audience. Hard truths and challenges are seldom the order of the day. It was not so last night.

I have inherited my identity and I have kept it by conscious choice. I am an Ulster Protestant who was born, reared and lived my entire life in Londonderry. I am British. I am an Ulster-Scot. I am a Unionist. I am a member of the Apprentice Boys.

The commemorative events under the auspices of the Apprentice Boys are a symbol of how these come together.

The festival is organised by the Loyal Order, founded and led from Londonderry.

The siege was a key event in the Glorious Revolution, a revolution central to the development of the modern British State to which I belong. The fight to defend this city was not by the diverse forces that took to the fields of the Boyne: it was an Ulster Protestant garrison.

Within that garrison, there were religious and cultural differences that had been set aside in a common and greater cause.

However, the Ulster-Scots were not subsumed as made clear by the two histories of the siege.

It is upon these imperishable 'rocks' of identity that every attempt to cut off Ulster from Britain has failed. Economics can change radically and quickly, but identity and allegiance do not.

In their blindness and blood-lust, some republicans thought these 'rocks' could be blasted away. Armalites, bullets, and bombs were used. The rocks endured. They finally saw that terrorising the Protestants failed, they now try to entice us through patronising words.

The tactics change, as do the names, but they will prove as futile as the Provos' campaign. The 'rocks' will endure.

Politically, republicanism adopts three approaches. First, there is denial. This identity is often dismissed as a form of 'false consciousness' - a failure to recognise the 'real' Irish identity. Second, there is the attempt to circumvent.

In an implicit admission of its own inability and with no sense of irony, republicans call on London to act as persuaders for unity with our neighbouring country in the Republic.

Third, there is condescension. This takes the form of ill-thought and insulting attempts at out-reach or inclusion.

Londonderry has seen them all. The Ulster Protestant community in the City is a minority community. Nationalism has controlled the political levers here for decades. Facing up to reality could have been done, but wasn't. Instead duplicity abounds.

While demanding minority rights at a Northern Ireland level, republicanism follows a majority rule concept in Londonderry.

The name change campaign is the most recent example. Report after report has been written about the issues affecting the Protestant minority in this City, but denial still rules.

It seems okay for some.

Whether it is liked or loathed, the truth must not only be told, but must rise above the crescendo of calls to "make politics work".

Whether I win elections and am popular, or lose them and become unpopular, I intend to keep telling it.


From Belfast Telegraph